Lake Area Prospect Watch: Week 4

Class of 2015
Ethan Campbell 5-9 185 Sr RB/DB Traverse City Central
The best running back in the Big North, and it’s not really close. Teams plan for him and stack the line, but Campbell continues to produce. His 61-yard TD run down the left sideline gave Traverse City Central it’s first and go-ahead score in their rivalry win over TC West. He added a 10-yard TD in the second half and finished with 121 yards on 10 carries. Campbell identifies and explodes through the hole and can make it happen in the open field with 4.5 speed. He’s also a dangerous kick returner and had an interception against West.

Tony Curry 6-6 320 Sr OL Muskegon Oakridge
One of the largest players in the Lake Area, he absolutely dwarfs his Oakridge teammates on the line and there just aren’t many, if any, like him at the Division 5 level in Michigan. Curry is on track to be a two-time all-leaguer in the West Michigan Conference, where he also starts at D tackle. While his mass would be reapportioned in college, Curry doesn’t carry a lot of bad weight and runs a 5.6 as a pulling guard. He’s not a bad athlete, as a pretty good basketball player in the winter. Where he needs to improve is in space, whether to try and use his size and wingspan to get a look as a college tackle, or getting out to the next level to hunt linebackers. He doesn’t have that kind of range yet.

Johnny Nutter 6-2 180 Sr WR/DB Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
One of the most stunning results of Week 3 came in O-K White opener as Forest Hills Central got its first win 31-19 over Caledonia. Nutter had 15- and 16-yard TD catches. He’s a very good athlete — a former quarterback who is also a basketball standout, now producing at receiver while playing both ways as a physical starting cornerback. He was formerly a safety and would be his likely college spot of not as a receiver. He has good hands, good feel, football toughness and a nose for the goal line and down marker. Nutter and junior Dylan Otosiki give senior QB Brett Miller perhaps the best pair of receivers in the O-K White — no small compliment given the talent in that league.

Daniel Shanley 6-2 235 Sr LB Grandville
Grandville is one of the Lake Area’s surprise teams at 2-1, the lone loss a strong showing against Muskegon. Shanley is part of a solid senior class that has helped ease the transition of new Bulldogs coach Eric Stiegel. Shanley is a run-stopping linebacker who gets a good jump and uses his strength to navigate lineman and has a keen sense for the ball in traffic. He won’t wow you but has a nose for the backfield and will consistently pile up tackles. Tends to shuffle more than let loose and just run which, while it’s a safeguard against over-committing, can limit Shanley’s finishing power. At the college level, will need to get quicker as he won’t be able to out-muscle the offense.

Will Stecker 6-4 270 Sr OL Gaylord
Gaylord has already won as many games this year, all three, as it did in the previous four seasons. But only one of those four, 2013, came with coach Will Cleaver on the sideline. While it remains to be seen if the Blue Devils will return to the golden days of Cleaver’s first tenure at the beginning of the century, they’re playing with a toughness and confidence that could make them a playoff threat out of the Big North. Traverse City West isn’t the only team in the league with two big, talent linemen, as Gaylord has a couple productive ones in Stecker and 6-3, 300 junior Kyle Augustine. Stecker is Gaylord’s left tackle, where you like his size and strength that would be even more useful with improved flexibility and pad level. In pass pass protect he uses his hands well to redirect edge rushers, and is able to block down against a four technique in the run game. Likely guard at the next level.

Seth Tice 6-3 270 Sr OL/DL Traverse City Central
Traverse City West may have the sexy tackle prospects. Tice toils on the interior but with a toughness and intent that was needed last Friday at a rainy Thirbly Field, and which embodies the approach of a Trojans team that is 3-0 heading into this week’s matchup with Detroit Catholic Central. Tice is physical, mean, and made an impact on the line going either direction, a space-eater on defense and run-puncher on offense. Much better run than pass blocker at this juncture.

Class of 2016
Daymion Archuleta 5-9 180 Jr RB  South Haven
The combination of the return of Archuleta from a two-game suspension and a size and experience advantage on Sturgis up front, were enough to give South Haven its first win of the season. Archuleta made up for lost time, carrying the ball 38 times for 308 yards. It will be interesting to see how he goes from here — if he can stay on the field, and against better competition.

Jake Cerny 6-5 272 Jr OL Traverse City West
He starts at right tackle as a counterbalance to his more renown junior teammate, left tackle Thiyo Lukusa. Cerny also spent some time at left guard when the Titans went big against TC Central with 6-7, 255 senior Cody Gravette at right tackle. Cerny impressed at our Traverse City camp in May and continues to improve, having added CMU and WMU offers since then. He has the frame of a tackle, good lateral movement and balance. Don’t be surprised if he were to eventually follow the path of TC West linemen Jake Fisher, Connor Hayes and Lukusa to a BCS school.

Thiyo Lukusa 6-5 302 Jr OL Traverse City West
He’s the Lake Area’s No. 1 ranked and most widely recruited 2016 prospect, who today, Tuesday, said on Twitter he will make his college announcement on December 1. As of now, he’s TC West’s starting left tackle. It’s easy to see why Lukusa is so highly regarded in the recruiting world, as his 3 bills moved well both straight ahead and side-to-side. He gets lots of work in pass protect as he continues to work on technique. For the attention he’s received, one may forget that this is still a very young football player who was hurt most of his sophomore seasons and for whom until recently basketball was his first sport. The nastier he gets on the field, the closer Lukusa will come to realizing his potential. He could be headed for guard, as he’s not as long and fast as a real high-end tackle prospect.

Lake Area’s 2016 Top 25 Recruits
1. Thiyo Lukusa 6-5 302 OL Traverse City West
2. Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 OL Paw Paw
3. Jake Cerny 6-5 272 OL Traverse City West
4. Gabe Baumann 6-3 245 LB Rockford
5. Michael Holdship 6-0 210 LB/RB Cadillac
7. Luke Thompson 6-0 180 DB Grand Rapids Christian
7. Hunter Broesma 6-1 175 WR Muskegon Mona Shores
8. Zack VanValkenburg 6-4 230 LB Zeeland West
9. Juanye Johnson 6-5 275 OL Muskegon
10. Tyler Bradfield 6-4 185 ATH Rockford
11. DeAndre Oakes-Owens 6-1 175 DB Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
12. Trenton Fincher 6-9 300 OL East Kentwood
13. Derices Brown 6-1 257 OL/DL Muskegon
14. Christian Boyd 6-2 270 DL Muskegon Mona Shores
15. Evan Whitmore 6-3 185 QB Petoskey
16. Carl Myers 6-2 250 DL/OL Grand Rapids West Catholic
17. James Wyrick 5-9 190 RB Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
17. Pat Naughton 6-0 205 QB Comstock Park
19. Darece Roberson 5-10 160 WR Mona Shores
20. Zane Gorby 6-3 200 LB Caledonia
21. Karson Murley 6-3 275 OL Lowell
22. Casey Brinks 5-10 170 DB Zeeland West
23. Gourney Sloan 6-0 165 WR/DB East Grand Rapids
24. Daryn Snow 6-3 175 WR Portage Northern
25. James Haverkamp 6-5 247 OL Grand Rapids Christian

Week 4 Team Rankings

Division 1
1. Rockford 3-0
2. Hudsonville 3-0
3. East Kentwood 3-0
4. West Ottawa 2-1
5. Grandville 2-1

Division 2
1. Muskegon 3-0
2. Lowell 3-0
3. Muskegon Mona Shores 2-1
4. Traverse City Central 3-0
5. Forest Hills Central 1-2
6. Caledonia 2-1
7. Portage Northern 2-1
8. Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 2-1
9. Portage Central 1-1
10. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills 1-2

Division 3
1. Zeeland West 3-0
2. Grand Rapids Christian 2-1
3. East Grand Rapids 2-1
4. Cedar Springs 3-0
5. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 3-0
6. St. Joseph 3-0
7. Stevensville Lakeshore 3-0
8. Plainwell 3-0
9. Niles 3-0
10. Petoskey 2-1
11. Grand Rapids Northview 2-1
12. Gaylord 3-0
13. Greenville 2-10
14. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern 2-1
15. Byron Center 2-1

Division 4
1. Grand Rapids South Christian 1-2
2. Paw Paw 3-0
3. Cadillac 3-0
4. Vicksburg 3-0
5. Grand Rapids Catholic Central 1-2
6. Hudsonville Unity Christian 2-1
7. Whitehall 3-0
8. Spring Lake 2-1
9. Dowagiac 2-1
10. Wyoming Godwin Heights 3-0

Division 5
1. Grand Rapids West Catholic 3-0
2. Newaygo 3-0
3. Muskegon Oakridge 2-1
4. Reed City 2-1
5. Hopkins 2-1
6. Kalamazoo United  3-0
7. Chippewa Hills 3-0
8. Kingsley 3-0
9. North Muskegon 2-1
10. Grant 2-1

Division 6
1. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 3-0
2. Boyne City 3-0
3. Constantine 3-0
4. Ravenna 3-0
5. Niles Brandywine 3-0
6. Watervliet 2-1
8. Hartford 2-1
9. Pine River 2-1
10. Grandville Calvin Christian 1-2

Division 7
1. Traverse City St. Francis 2-1
2. Gobles 3-0
3. Decatur 3-0
4. Cassopolis 2-1
5. Manton 3-0
6. Lawton 2-1
7. Maple City Glen Lake 2-0
8. Suttons Bay 2-1
9. Frankfort 1-1
10. Saugatuck 1-2

Division 8
1. Muskegon Catholic Central 3-0
2. Beal City 3-0
3. Johnessburg-Lewiston 3-0
4. Baldwin 2-1
5. Eau Claire 2-1

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 3

Class of 2015
Dan Harazin 6-2 210 Sr OL Stevensville Lakeshore
First-year Lakeshore head coach Bryan Keim has some solid seniors to transition from the tenure of legendary Denny Dock. They improved to 2-0 with a win Saturday at Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix. Amongst those seniors is Harazin, who is an ideal high school center. His fundamentals are strong, with good initial quickness, violent hands and is fast into the second level to put down linebackers. We liked his enthusiasm and leadership as Lakeshore’s running game picked up momentum. If he’s not able to put on enough weight to anchor the line at the college level, Harazin’s 4.7 speed and football IQ will find him a spot somewhere on the field.

Nick Marosi 6-2 195 Sr WR Grand Rapids Catholic Central
He’s seen a lot of football, as a rare four-year starter who now doesn’t just go both ways for Catholic Central, but all over the field including special teams. That versatiity contributed to Marosi’s over 200 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the Cougars’ opening loss to EGR. Saturday against Indiana state champion Gary Andrean, it was tougher going. Marosi’s best and likely college position is receiver, but lines up most often in the backfield so as to ensure more touches. If not, he’ll start split wide or in the slot. Defensively Marosi starts at cornerback. It’s not hard to project him physically to linebacker, but would have to greatly improve his tackling.

Mason Opple 6-3 207 Sr QB Hudsonville
The Big North’s a pretty good conference. But it’s the talent equivalent of the O-K Blue, and last Friday Traverse City West found itself once again overwhelmed by an O-K Red opponent when Hudsonville headed North and beat the Trojans 48-17. Opple was the best athlete on the field, with his rugged body and 4.6 speed running 13 times for 181 yards and three TDs. He also went 8-of-14 passing for 153 yards and a TD. Athleticism is a given for Opple, who starts for statewide top 10 teams in both football and basketball and whose best sport may be baseball. If he were to focus just on football there’s a lot of upside, whether redshirting for a crash course in quarterbacking or moving him to another position.

Derek Smith 6-4 250 Sr OL/DL Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
Terrific looking prospect who was injured his junior season and is just coming into his own. With a lean 250 on an athletic frame, jersey No. 55 and a neck roll, Smith looks like a linebacker. That fitness reaped its reward with consistent production in Kenowa Hills’ win over Greenville at both left tackle and left defense end. Kenowa’s biggest offensive plays for senior running back Andrew Wawrzyniak came behind Smith and 6-2, 280 junior Jake Boonstra on the left side of the line, Smith able to run right with him 20 yards downfield. Kenowa is strong on both sides of the line, which includes 6-3, 240 junior two-way tackle Brenden Bott and 6-2, 310 senior Malik Swain a double-team magnet at defensive tackle. But Smith is a cut above, and it’s hard not to get excited about a kid who seems right out of the mold of the under-recruited athletes that have gone to CMU and, in some cases, gone on to become wealthy NFL tackles. Right now he’s a top five Lake Area senior, not a bad starting point.

Lake Area’s 2015 Top 25 Recruits
1. Wesley French 6-5 295 DL/OL St. Joseph
2. Jon Keenoy 6-3 285 OL East Kentwood Western Michigan
3. Tyree Jackson 6-4 190 Sr QB Muskegon Mona Shores Buffalo
4. Derek Smith 6-4 250 QB OL/DL Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills Central Michigan
5. Jon Wassink 6-3 190 Sr QB Grand Rapids South Christian Western Michigan
6. Carter Masek 6-3 235 Sr LB East Grand Rapids Miami-OH
7. Sam Beal 6-2 175 Sr WR Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills Western Michigan
8. Steve Eipper 6-4 270 Sr OL Greenville Central Michigan
9. Bryce Witham 6-4 225 Sr DL/TE Grand Rapids West Catholic
10. Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr DL/TE Traverse City St. Francis Buffalo
11. Gabe Andree 6-0 185 Sr DB Grand Rapids Christian Toledo
12. Qiantae Ewing 6-3 235 Sr LB Grand Rapids Christian
13. Mason Banbury 6-4 225 Sr TE East Grand Rapids
14. Bryce Wilker 6-6 280 Sr OL Belding
15. Adam Trautman 6-5 210 Sr QB Elk Rapids
16. Brandon Childress 6-3 185 Sr QB Baldwin
17. Deontay Moffett 5-9 210 Sr RB Muskegon Mona Shores
18. Eddie Kelly 6-0 210 Sr RB/LB Caledonia
19. Travis Russell 6-2 185 Sr QB Grand Rapids West Catholic
20. Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr OL/DL Zeeland West
21. Mason Opple 6-3 207 Sr QB Hudsonville
22. Jarrad Whited 6-2 225 Sr DL Vicksburg
23. Dereko Riley 5-7 170 Sr RB/DB Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
24. Andrew Duckett 6-1 185 Sr QB Niles Brandywine
25. Alezay Coleman 5-9 175 Sr DB Muskegon

Grant Tennihill 5-10 210 Sr LB Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Gary Andrean had Notre Dame linebacker recruit in Josh Barajas and a big-play back Trevor Berg. But the most “wow” plays in Andrean’s shutout win under a bearing late summer sun at Houseman Field, came from Tennhill. The Catholic Central outside linebacker got to Andrean’s QB three times in the first half alone. And all were whallops. He also had a sack in CC’s season opening loss at EGR. Tennehill has a terrific motor — he’s a wrestler — and can either out-quick or out-last bigger blockers and recover with power finishes.

Class of 2016
Jake Martin 5-11 175 Jr DB Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
We loved the poise Martin showed last season as a sophomore safety on Northern’s O-K Bronze championship team, when we saw the Huskies in the playoffs at Grand Rapids Christian. His athleticism and leadership have been further mined this season as he’s also the quarterback for first-year head coach . He threw for a TD and ran for over 100 yards in FHN’s opening win against Kenowa Hills while sharing snaps with Spencer Peterson, then threw for two TDs and ran for another against Byron Center as Northern improved to 2-0.

Class of 2017
Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix Linemen
Loy-Norrix started three sophomores in their Saturday afternoon home loss to Lakeshore, 6-3, 225 right tackle Joe Hruska, 6-1, 240 left tackle Jeudevine McClain and 6-1, 220 one technique Nick Reed.

Keegan Cossou 6-5 200 So TE/LB Greenville
Greenville has a strong group of linebackers with 6-2, 210 senior Chase Harrington, senior Kolton Dunham and Cossou. Cossou is a member of another talented group, and that is the Lake Area’s pass-rushing prospects in sophomore class. The Lake Area’s sophomore class has a Big Three of potential BCS ends with St. Joseph’s Corey Malone-Hatcher, Zeeland East’s Jonathan Berghorst and Alledale’s Nate Umlor. Cossou doesn’t yet have the mass and/or technique of that group. But there were certainly flashes during Greenville’s loss at Kenowa Hills, moving well for his age and frame . Once he learns to like blocking, he projects as a tight end prospect as well, taking advantage of the athleticism that also has Cossou a future basketball standout.

Week 3 Team Rankings

Division 1
1. Rockford 2-0
2. Hudsonville 2-0
3. East Kentwood 2-0
4. West Ottawa 1-1
5. Traverse City West 1-1

Division 2
1. Muskegon 2-0
2. Muskegon Mona Shores 2-0
3. Lowell 2-0
4. Caledonia 2-0
5. Traverse City Central 2-0
6. Portage Central 1-0
7. Portage Northern 2-0
8. Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 2-0
9. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hils 1-1
10. Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills 1-1

Division 3
1. Zeeland West 2-0
2. Grand Rapids Christian 1-1
3. East Grand Rapids 2-0
4. Cedar Springs 2-0
5. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 2-0
6. St. Joseph 2-0
7. Petoskey 2-0
8. Plainwell 2-0
9. Niles 2-0
10. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern 2-0

Division 4
1. Grand Rapids South Christian 0-2
2. Paw Paw 2-0
3. Cadillac 2-0
4. Hudsonville Unity Christian 2-0
5. Allendale 1-1
6. Comstock Park 1-1
7. Muskegon Orchard View  2-0
8. Grand Rapids Catholic Central  0-2
9. Vicksburg 2-0
10. Whitehall 2-0

Division 5
1. Grand Rapids West Catholic 2-0
2. Reed City 2-0
3. Newaygo 2-0
4. Muskegon Oakridge 1-1
5. North Muskegon 2-0
6. Hopkins 1-1
7. Kingsley 2-0
8. Parchment 1-1
9. Chippewa Hills 2-0
10. Berrrien Springs 1-1

Division 6
1. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 2-0
2. Boyne City 2-0
3. Constantine 2-0
4. Ravenna 2-0
5. Niles Brandywine 2-0
6. Pine River 2-0
7. Grandville Calvin Christian 1-1
8. Hartford 1-1
9. Watervliet 1-1
10. Elk Rapids 1-1

Division 7
1. Traverse City St. Francis 1-1
2. Gobles 2-0
3. Decatur 2-0
4. Cassopolis 1-1
5. Saugatuck 1-1
6. Lawton 1-1
7. Maple City Glen Lake 1-0
8. Frankfort 1-0
9. Suttons Bay 1-1
10. St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 1-0-1

Division 8
1. Muskegon Catholic Central 2-0
2. Beal City 2-0
3. Johnessburg-Lewiston 2-0
4. Baldwin 1-1
5. Eau Claire 1-0

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 2

Class of 2015
Sam Beal 6-2 175 Sr WR Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills Western Michigan
Beal doesn’t just look and move the part of a college receiver — long arms and smooth sprinter’s speed — he produced like it in Ottawa Hills’ opener, admittedly against by far the worst team we’ve seen in the now third season of the LMFR, Grand Rapids Union. Beal needs to work on his strength getting off the jams, but with his knee fully healthy once he reaches gear watch out. Against Union he made life simpler for Ottawa Hills’ sophomore QB Jeremy Glasco. Beal caught three balls from Glasco for 103 yards and two TDs, and scored twice more on an end-around and interception return. Unlike last year’s Western Michigan recruit from the Lake Area, Mona Shores’ Asantay Brown, we like Beal as a natural receiver instead of DB in the MAC.

Chris Pearl 6-4 185 Sr WR Otsego
He could be this year’s Kyle Steigenga, using his basketball hops and timing to pile up TDs. In his first high school football game, Pearl was a bright spot in a big loss to Paw Paw with four catches for 73 yards and a TD. Obviously behind from a football perspective, but Pearl has tools that will intrigue college coaches, such as his 6-8 wingspan and 30″ standing vertical.

Jon Wassink 6-3 190 Sr QB Grand Rapids South Christian Western Michigan
There was a sense on the Grand Rapids Christian side of the stands that Wassink might have had a magical comeback from a 21-0 deficit last Friday, but that never came to pass as the Eagles beat South Christian for the fourth year in a row 28-14. Despite that streak it was GR Christian playing with the edge of the underdogs, and put pressure on Wassink all night. When he ran the ball Wassink did fine, a game-high 116 yards. It was when he threw it under duress that the mechanics and decision-making suffered, including a pick. He was 14-of-27 for 179 yards passing with two TDs, one of them 51 yards to senior Ryan Veenstra who made a tough catch. When he did have time, Wassink made legit college throws able to put it through traffic to tight targets. South needs more production from the wide receivers, as senior running back Geff Plasman was the most reliable target.

Class of 2016
James Haverkamp 6-5 247 Jr OL Grand Rapids Christian
Haverkamp has some big cleats to fill. He’s GR Christian’s starting left tackle in the stead of Tommy Doles, who has matriculated to Northwestern. Doles may have been the best overall football player in the Lake Area in 2013. Haverkamp doesn’t have that kind of talent. But he has the frame and coaching to project as guys like current seniors like Greenville’s Steve Eipper and Kenowa Hills’ Derek Smith, both CMU commitments. Haverkamp is long and used his hands well, needs more consistent pad level and to develop some nasty. The Eagles’ line should continue to improve as Havercamp is one of four solid juniors along with 6-4, 265 Ben Hoerle at right guard and 5-9, 215 linebacker Kaelin Hopson at left guard and 6-1, 205 junior Osman Biango at right tackle.

Garret Lundteigen 5-9 165 Jr WR/DB Petoskey
The son of Petoskey ski coach Erik Lundteigen, and a member of that state championship team himself, Garret may have well been on skis the way his 4.5 speed blew through the Sault during the Northmen’s 53-14 win in the UP. That one opened with a 75-yard kickoff return TD from Lundteigen. He also had a 69-yard catch-and-run TD, a 56-yard TD run and made two interceptions. The Northmen’s offense should be as dangerous as ever, with Lundteigen and another 4.5 threat, senior running back Kurt Boucher, at the disposal of the Lake Area’s top junior QB Evan Whitmore.

Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 230 Jr LB Zeeland West
He’s transitioned seemingly easily from a starting D end on Zeeland West’s state championship team to their middle linebacker in the opener with Detroit Country Day. We really like how he flowed to the ball. Unlike when these teams met last year, DCD had the bigger and faster team. But not better football players, and this junior was a blanket in the middle of the field as the Dux’s D didn’t let the Yellowjackets release any game-breakers. His most startling play saw VanValkenburg, after a bad snap, run down Country Day’s QB leveling him with one arm from behind for a 17-yard, third-down loss. As three-sport athlete VanValkenburg matures at the position and is able to play freely and deliver with more finishing power, he could be the next Carter Masek out of the Lake Area.

Evan Whitmore 6-3 185 Jr QB Petoskey
His upside is huge, as he has all the physical tools and intangibles and is just getting started. This is only Whitmore’s second season playing quarterback, and his first he did it as a varsity starting sophomore. Petoskey will always make hay with their monotously prolific double-wing, but Whitmore’s talents are too evident to not take advantage of them. Look for him to expound upon his 2013 numbers of 32-57 passing for 615 yards and seven TDs. In the Northmen’s opening win at Sault Ste. Marie, he threw for four TDs. He puts up a strong ball with little strain, and places it well, and runs with 4.6 speed. Whitmore is the top 2016 QB prospect in the Lake Area.

James Wyrick 5-9 190 Jr RB Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
He was one of the state’s most productive underclassman backs in 2013 with over 1,000 yards (albeit it nearly a quarter of those in just one game with Holland) and 11 TDs. Wyrick knows what he’s doing back there, is patient with blocking, and rarely goes down with the first hit. He fights for the first-down flat or end zone pylon. He’s shifty with good but not elite speed, so Wyrick will have to keep working on his blocking, receiving to become a complete back for the college level.

Class of 2017
Davaunte Dickens 5-10 225 RB/LB Grand Rapids Christian
He looked like an East Grand Rapids back in his varsity debut, running seven time for 41 yards and two TDs in the Eagles’ win over South Christian. He did a good job as an outlet for backup QB Patrick Hall, who came in and played with poise after starter Lukas Thompson was injured. What makes Dickens a legit prospect is how light on his feet he is for his size, which were evident on his 24-yard TD run. Dickens went both ways against South Christian, recovering a fumble, and another promising sophomore started with him on defense, cornerback Tahari Braggs.

Westside Smackdown: Predicting Opening Weekend East-West Showdowns

Honest minds know that the best high school football in Michigan is played in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon area. It will be apparent again Thursday and Friday as this season kicks off with some East vs. West games. Predicted winners are bold.

Canton @ West Ottawa: WO dropped this opener last year, but home field could be the edge here.

Detroit Catholic Central @ Muskegon: If CC, now in Novi, moves much more West, it will be in our coverage area someday.  Two of the state’s legendary programs meet, and blue collar trumps Oakland County suburbs.

Detroit Country Day @ Zeeland West: Just like last year, Zeeland West will be too strong, too fast for Chris Webber’s alma mater.

Detroit Loyola @ Zeeland East: Loyola may only be Division 7, but the Bulldogs are two-time state runners-up at that level.

Muskegon Mona Shores @ Saline: Saline has one of the state’s top defensive backs in Tyrone Miller, who has offers from half the MAC. He’ll see first-hand a guy who will be one of the top QB’s in the league in a few years, Mona’s/Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson.

Utica Eisenhower @ Rockford: The Rams won this one last year at Ike, too.

 

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 1

Class of 2015
Wesley French 6-5 295 Sr DL St. Joseph
Some have him on the offensive line, we like French better defensively. He has the size and demeanor to thrive at tackle. French plays with an edge and is explosive in short space. He has offers from Ball State, Buffalo, CMU, Toledo and WMU. Some good early video and French, the Lake Area’s No. 2 ranked senior, could solidfy Big Ten interest.

Class of 2015 Defensive Line Top 10
1. Wesley French 6-5 295 Sr St. Joseph
2. Bryce Witham 6-4 240 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
3. Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr Traverse City St. Francis
4. Jarrad Whited 6-2 225 Sr Vicksburg
5. Kasey DeWitt 6-4 220 Sr Shelby
6. Mike Egeler 6-4 225 Sr Comstock Park
7. Zach Hellman 6-4 220 Sr Muskegon Mona Shores
8. Malik Swain 6-2 300 Sr Grand Rapids Kenowa Hill
9. Victor Williams 6-2 270 Sr East Grand Rapids
10. Tommy Brown 6-2 265 Sr Grand Rapids Northview

Jacob Geter 5-8 170 RB Plainwell
From a school known for its size and power football, Plainwell’s top college prospect is a scat back and kick-returner. What makes Geter so good is he thinks he’s the biggest kid on the field. Oh, that and 4.37 40 speed. He’s explosive, quick and shifty. Geter’s .m.o. is common among the Lake Area’s top senior running backs, as the 2015 class leans to small and fast over power runners.

Class of 2015 Running Back Top 10
1. Ethan Campbell 5-9 185 Sr Traverse City Central
2. Dereko Riley 5-7 170 Sr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
3. Jacob Geter 5-8 170 Sr Plainwell
4. Marty Ward 5-9 210 Sr Niles Brandywine
5. Jarod Rodgers 6-0 205 Sr Byron Center
6. Geff Plasman 5-11 180 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
7. Corey Westra 5-9 175 Sr Zeeland East
8. Lasevean Majewski 5-9 185 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
9. Eddie Kelly 6-0 205 Sr Caledonia
10. Jon Green 5-7 175 Sr Reed City

Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr TE/OL Zeeland West
Despite defending the Division 3 state championship, Zeeland West didn’t get much preseason respect from the Detroit Media Mafia. They’ll get reacquainted soon enough, when Detroit Country Day calls in the score from today’s sure to be butt-whoopin’ on the Westside. It will happen because of players like Raby, a standout tackle in 2013 who will move one spot over and try his hand at tight end as a senior. He’s not the next Jordan VanDort and doesn’t have to be. Raby is an athletic technician who is a top 10 senior prospect at two positions, tight end and offensive line.

Class of 2016
Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 Jr OL Paw Paw
VanHoeven was already an all-conference guard after his sophomore season, and has put on 20 pounds since. That’s going to be a problem for the Wolverin B, as he’s a big hitter and plays through the whistle. The Lake Area is loaded with linemen for the 2016 class. Everyone knows about No. 1 Thiyo Lukusa, with offers from UM, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Lukusa’s Traverse City West teammate, Jake Cerny, has offers from CMU and WMU and will get BCS attention, and we have VanHoeven standwiched between that Big North pair in the rankings.

Class of 2016 Offensive Line Top 10
1. Thiyo Lukusa 6-5 300 Jr Traverse City West
2. Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 Jr Paw Paw
3. Jake Cerny 6-5 280 Jr Traverse City West
4. Juanye Johnson 6-5 275 Jr Muskegon
5. Trenton Fincher 6-9 300 Jr East Kentwood
6. Derices Brown 6-1 257 Jr Muskegon
7. Karson Murley 6-3 275 Jr Lowell
8. Carl Myers 6-2 250 Jr Grand Rapids West Catholic
9. Kyle Augustine 6-3 305 Jr Gaylord
10. James Havercamp  6-5  247  Jr  Grand Rapids Christian

Pre-Season Big School Team Rankings

1. Muskegon
Muskegon has played in two straight state title games and don’t be surprised if there’s another thanks in no small part to the Big Reds veteran offensive line, including a couple of D1 prospects in the junior class Juanye Johnosn and Dereices Brown. They’ll be blocking for a new quarterback with Deshuan Thrower having matriculated to college basketball, but top running back Caleb Washington and receiver Joeviair Kennedy are both back. Linebacker TJ Smith is the top returning tackler and Alezay Coleman holds down the defensive backfield. They’ll have even more responsibility and be tested without Kenneth Finley up front. The Mona Shores games could be interesting, but other than that Muskegon won’t be tested in the O-K Black — which is saying something because it’s not a weak league at all with four playoff teams in 2013. The non-conference schedule is a diffent story, as it includes Detroit Catholic Central, Grand Rapids Christian and East Grand Rapids.

2. Zeeland West
This is simply one of the state’s elite programs, operating at full capacity under a hall of fame coach. If their season holds to form, they’ll embarrass Detroit Country Day Thursday before rolling the O-K Green, with an intriguing out-of-league respite at Comstock Park. Despite graduating the Lake Area’s best tight end and running back, Jordan VanDort and Danny Bauder, respectively, coach John Shilito’s defending Division 3 state champion will again contend. The offensive line is veteran and athletic, with the top returning lineman, senior Trevor Raby, moving to tight end. Senior Smith Saenbouttarath is the Dux top two-way lineman. Junior Casey Brinks returns at QB. He handled the ball in the wing T deftly as an underclassman. The big-break backs this fall are senior Nick Jasch who has 4.6 speed and junior Dakota Geurink. Junior linebacker Zach VanValkenburg is one of the Lake Area’s top college prospects in the 2016 class.

3. Rockford
The Rams’ defense carried them to a fifth-straight O-K Red crown (5-0) in 2013 despite numerous injuries. Brent Showers and Randy Garvin are gone so the onus will switch to the offense. Rockford will as always be a big-school state powerhouse, though their non-conference schedule got easier without Muskegon bringing a respite to one of the Lake Area’s best (certainly best-attended) rivalries.

4. Grand Rapids South Christian
The Sailors are the Lake Area’s answer to Farmington Hills Harrison’s 2001 offensive juggernaut, with Jon Wassink playing the part of Drew Stanton. They should again get through the O-K Gold clean, but out of the league will have to really earn it early against Grand Rapids Christian — the only D to stymie South last year and winner of four straight against the Sailors — and Caledonia. Wassink has his primary weapons back and they’ll be able to score with anyone. It was the defense that ultimately caught up with them in 2013, surrendering 49 points to Marine City in the Division 4 state final. They have the horsepower for a third-straight trip to Ford Field, led by the Lake Area’s top QB, WMU commitment Wassink. He’ll play toss and catch all day with a pair of big, talented receivers Sam Heyboer and Eric VanVorst, countering with 1,000 yard back Geff Plasman. All this while operating behind a line that includes three third-year starters Mitch Quakkelaar, Casey Elzinga and Brandon Huyser.

5. Muskegon Mona Shores
It’s high times for Mona’s program after making the playoffs for the first time, ever, last season. 2013 should see Mona fighting it out with Muskegon for the O-K Black crown. Before the league season begins, they’ll need to win three of their first four — Saline, Fruitport, Rockford, Caledonia — to justify this ranking. Like South Christian, Mona will be an aerial display thanks to an elite senior QB, in this case Buffalo-bound Tyree Jackson. With a playoff run, he could approach 100 career TDs. He has myriad weapons including an explosive junior receiver in Hunter Broesma and one of the Lake Area’s sleeper senior prospects in running back DeOntay Moffett. The Sailors aren’t just a 7-on-7 squad though. Defensive linemen like senior Zach Hellman and junior Christian Boyd.

6. Hudsonville
It was a great program win for Hudsonville to beat Rockford for a Division 1 regional championship in 2013. A repeat isn’t out of the question, as this is a typical Eagles team with a lot of overall side, and the bonus of Mason Opple returning at QB. He’s not just one of the best quaterbacks in the Lake Area, but one of the best flat out football players. The program’s continuity will really help in the O-K Red. Coach Dave Lidgaard is the second-longest tenured coach in the league after only hall of famer Ralph Munger at Rockford. Three O-K Red schools have first-year head coaches. The out-of-league slate is respectable but not outrageous: Holt, the long trek to Traverse City West, and Grand Rapids Christian.

7. Grand Rapids Christian
GR Christian learned a year ahead of schedule what it was like to play without Drake Harris, and still went 8-3 in 2013. As always, Christian rolls out a bunch of future college talent. There are a lot of new faces on both lines, but the offensive and defensive backfields are veteran with the likes of Malick McLaughlin, Qi’ante Ewing, Jack Bates and Gabe Andree, the Lake Area’s top cornerback. The Eagles’ schedule is beyond legit. Their three non-conference opponents — No. 3 South Christian, No. 1 Muskegon and No. 7 Hudsonville — all reached at least the regoinal finals in 2013. And that’s

8. Lowell
This ranking would seem low giving Lowell’s history, including an undefeated regular season in 2013, but there are a lot of unknowns, and a quick learning curve in the rugged O-K White which begins week 2 with an East Grand Rapids team out to prove something.

9. West Ottawa
West Ottawa seems often on the verge, but just can’t quite break through. It’s the same karma as the basketball team, which has never won a district. There’s enough depth and talent on the Northside to compete with anyone in the Lake Area. eniors James Lacy and Christian Rodino are a dangerous pair of running backs, and first-year QB Caleb McNitt could be WO’s answer to Mason Opple.

10. Caledonia
Cal can’t be ranked any higher because the schedule is about as tough as you’ll fine. In addition to being in the thick of the Lake Area’s strongest league, the O-K White, they face they face the top two QBs, South Christian’s Jon Wassink and Mona Shores’ Tyree Jackson. Tom Burrill is back to coach the Scots and inherits a typical Caledonia roster, not big kids but athletic and tough. Seniors like linebackers Eddie Kelly and Michael Andrusiak, defensive back Logan Soule and QB Kobe Wilson are all college prospects.

  • 11. East Kentwood
  • 12. Portage Central
  • 13. Traverse City Central
  • 14. East Grand Rapids
  • 15. Allendale
  • 16. Traverse City West
  • 17. Portage Northern
  • 18. Comstock Park
  • 19. St. Joseph
  • 20. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
  • 21. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
  • 22. Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  • 23. Stevensville Lakeshore
  • 24. Paw Paw
  • 25. Petoskey

Pre-Season All-Lake Defense

Big School
DL Wesley French 6-5 295 Sr St. Joseph
DL Noah Foss 6-3 270 Sr Rockford
DL Smith Saenbouttarath 6-0 270 Sr Zeeland West
LB TJ Smith 6-0 200 Sr Muskegon
LB Carter Masek 6-3 235 Sr East Grand Rapids
LB Mason Dekker 5-11 212 Sr West Ottawa
LB Jack Bates 6-3 230 Sr Grand Rapids Christian
DB Eric VanVoorst 6-3 180 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
DB Zach McGuire 6-1 190 Sr Traverse City West
DB Alezay Coleman 5-9 175 Sr Muskegon
DB Dereko Riley 5-7 170 Sr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer

Small School
DL Bryce Witham 6-4 240 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
DL Kasey DeWitt 6-4 220 Sr Shelby
DL Dillon Thompson 6-0 240 Sr Elk Rapids
DL Dakota Scholten 6-4 220 Sr Grant
LB Kenneth Willekes 6-2 200 Sr Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christain
LB Lamar Jordan 5-11 185 Sr Muskegon Catholic Central
LB Jason Nash 6-4 190 Sr Decatur
DB Quincy Collings 5-11 170 Sr Hopkins
DB Luke Sage 6-0 185 Jr Boyne City
DB Jason McDonough 5-11 165 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
DB Preston Huckaby 6-0 185 Sr Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian

Pre-Season All-Lake Offense

Big School
QB Jon Wassink 6-2 185 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
OL Jon Keenoy 6-3 285 Sr East Kentwood
OL Thiyo Lukusa 6-5 300 Jr Traverse City West
OL Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 Jr Paw Paw
OL Bryce Wilker 6-5 280 Sr Belding
OL Jake Cerny 6-5 280 Jr Traverse City West
RB Jarod Rodgers 6-0 205 Sr Byron Center
RB Geff Plasman 5-11 180 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
TE Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr Zeeland West
WR Nate Couturier 5-10 150 Sr Allendale
WR Joeviair Kennedy 6-3 190 Sr Muskegon

Small School
QB Adam Trautman 6-5 210 Sr Elk Rapids
OL Michael Caughey 6-0 225 Sr Muskegon Catholic Central
OL DeKurtis Murphy 6-5 295 Sr Lake Michigan Catholic
OL TJ Patterson 6-3 260 Sr Reed City
OL Tony Curry 6-5 300 Sr Muskegon Oakridge
OL Cole VanOosten 6-7 270 Sr Kalamazoo United
RB Marty Ward 5-9 210 Sr Niles Brandywine
RB Justin Hull 5-9 175 Sr Constantine
RB Lasavian Majewski 5-7 190 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
TE Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr Traverse City St. Francis
WR Shane Rodenburg 6-0 175 Sr Kent City

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